GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A mom who hoped to make senior photos memorable for her East Kentwood student is instead feeling scammed and frustrated after the company suddenly closed without delivering on her order.
“I was a long-standing customer. Why is this my end result?” Tashara Saffore wondered after contacting Target 8. “This is my daughter’s senior year, which is supposed to be a time where you’re celebrating, reflecting, looking forward to the future and instead we’re looking at sheer disappointment.”
Saffore set up an appointment for her daughter, Aleshia, with Portrait Innovations’ Lansing location in October 2019. She has been booking the company to capture family milestones since 2013. She previously relied on the Grandville location, but found it was closed the last time she went there.
“From where we live to Lansing, it’s more than an hour away. I felt like, you know what, I’ve been a customer for years, I know what to expect, I’m willing to go ahead and go there,” Saffore explained.
She paid more than $1,200 for prints that were defective — covered with marks — and then products she never received, including the rights to digital copies.
Saffore thought the matter was resolved after her credit card company approved her dispute for the charge in December, only to learn Portrait Innovations responded to the dispute and her card was recharged at the end of January.
The company’s response to Saffore’s dispute happened around the same time it permanently closed every Portrait Innovations location across the country.
News 8’s sister station in North Carolina, where the company was based, covered the sudden closure last month.
Saffore learned about the closure as she researched filing a small claims case against the company.
“Everything’s gone. When you go on to Portrait Innovations to try to get to their website, it’s gone. You go to the Facebook page, it says the links broken. It’s like they just disappeared,” she said.
The company settled a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the fall. As of September 2019, Portrait Innovations’ debt amounted to $25,896,604.20, according to court records.
The attorney listed on bankruptcy filings told Target 8 the firm no longer represents the company or CEO John Grosso. Numbers previously associated with its headquarters and Grosso have been disconnected.
A spokeswoman for the Michigan Attorney General’s Office told Target 8 the agency is looking into two complaints related to the sudden closures of Michigan locations — one from Saffore. Previously, the office received complaints against Portrait Innovations in 2011, 2016 and 2018.
The Better Business Bureau has more than 100 open complaints against the company. The BBB told Target 8 consumers often hit a dead end if their complaint is against a company that permanently closed.
Saffore hopes, at a minimum, she can get Aleshia’s digital library back.
“…I have things that are not up to quality standard, they don’t reach my standard and I’m still left to pay for it? And I have no recourse with getting things rectified? It’s a slap on the face,” she told Target 8.
If you’ve been impacted by the Portrait Innovations closure, you can file a complaint with the AG’s Office. The AG’s Office also has advice online for dealing with sudden business closures